If, by chance, you missed a summer sojourn in the lush wine-producing oasis of Franciacorta in the region of Lombardy in eastern Italy, then relax: the next best thing is available to those who seek out a bottle of Berlucchi.
Famous for its wines, which are produced in the style of Champagne, Franciacorta has become synonymous with the best of Italian sparkling wine. Unlike Italy’s other well-known sparkling wine, often best employed as a foil to orange juice at brunch, Franciacorta was the first to receive the DOCG designation, the highest classification for Italian wines. Since 1995, only sparkling wines from the region may be labeled Franciacorta – not unlike Champagne in France.
While the French have been producing Champagne for approximately 350 years, Franciacorta’s relative youth as a sparkling-wine-producing region makes its palate-pleasing results all the more impressive. A fortuitous meeting at Palazzo Lana Berlucchi in 1955 between Count Berlucchi and oenologist Franco Ziliani resulted in the first production of Franciacorta sparking wine in 1961, followed by the awarding of a DOC appellation in 1967. Throughout the Sixties, Franciacorta wines served as a perfect complement to an Italian decade marked by bubbly optimism and innovation.
Since then, Franciacorta wines have achieved renown for their rigorous production methods and quality-focused producers. The region’s 5,400 acres of vineyards are grown by a group of just over 100 winemakers. Berlucchi, for example, adheres to sustainable viticulture practices, with 50% of the winery’s electricity generated by solar panels.
The proof is on the palate and particularly so with Berlucchi’s Cellarius Pas Dose, which exhibits Franciacorta’s long-lasting pinpoint bubbles in support of a crisp and creamy finish and a bouquet of toasty bread.
Blended from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Berlucchi Franciacorta wines are aged for a minimum of 24 months, followed by an additional two months for disgorgement. In keeping with the “methode champenoise,” each bottle of Franciacorta undergoes a second fermentation to achieve 6 bars of atmospheric pressure.
Named for the year of the winery’s first production, Berlucchi '61 Rose is a seductive celebratory wine in brilliant salmon pink enlivened with fine pinpoint bubbles. A hint of wild berries mixes with the scent of crusty bread, which makes for a perfect aperitif. Make a toast to the now – and to Franciacorta, Italy’s wine-growing region of sparkling elegance.